What is "pharma-bro" Martin Shkreli spending his ill-gotten gains on? The only copy of the new Wu-Tang Clan album, "Once Upon a Time in Shaolin"

The deal was finalized before Shkreli's practices went viral -- RZA's since donated money from sale to charity


Scott Eric Kaufman
December 9, 2015 7:17PM (UTC)

The most despised man on the Internet, Turing Pharmaceutical CEO Martin Shkreli, made at play at being even more despicable earlier today, writing on Twitter that:

The album he's referring to is the Wu-Tang Clan's "Once Upon a Time in Shaolin," of which the group only produced a single copy. "We’re about to put out a piece of art like nobody else has done in the history of music,” RZA told Forbes. “We’re making a single-sale collector’s item. This is like someone having the scepter of an Egyptian king."

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Upset fans attempted to purchase the album via a Kickstarter campaign, so that it didn't simply fall into the hands of "someone who has disposable millions," for whom it'd be "just another shiny new toy for them" because they don't "appreciate the music."

Unfortunately, as Bloomberg's Devin Leonard and Annmarie Hordern revealed this morning, that's precisely what happened now that it's fallen into Shkreli's hands. To the surprise of absolutely no one familiar with him, Shkreli told Bloomberg that he first became interested in Wu-Tang when he heard the song "C.R.E.A.M.," or "Cash Rules Everything Around Me."

He also said that he was "a little worried that [the Wu-Tang Clan] were going to walk out of the deal" after news of his pharmaceutical price-gouging went viral. "But by then we’d closed. The whole kind of thing since then has been just kind of ‘Well, do we want to announce it’s him? Do we not want to announce it’s him?’ I think they were trying to cover their butts a little bit."

Shkreli also boasted of his ability to get any rapper he wanted to perform for him. "The reality is, sure you could [do it], you know, at the right price these guys basically will do anything."

In an email to Bloomsberg Businessweek, RZA wrote that "The sale of 'Once Upon a Time in Shaolin' was agreed upon in May, well before Martin Skhreli’s [sic] business practices came to light. We decided to give a significant portion of the proceeds to charity."

For his part, Shkreli said that he doesn't even plan on listening to the album anytime soon -- hoarding artistic treasures that one's incapable of appreciating is a tradition among the idle rich, after all -- saying that "I'm going to kind of save it for a rainy day." (Though he did acknowledge that if Taylor Swift wanted to come to his place and listen to the album, he'd consider it.)
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Scott Eric Kaufman

Scott Eric Kaufman is an assistant editor at Salon. He taught at a university, but then thought better of it. Follow him at @scottekaufman or email him at skaufman@salon.com.

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